13 March 2008

Official Re-Opening of Forest Hill School

Forest Hill School had its official reopening this evening with wonderful performances by pupils. Earlier in the day my good friends Jake and Mathew (ex-pupils like me) went along to help a group of students put together a video for the BBC school report project. Their video celebrating their yellow school can be seen below with more details at http://foresthillschoolnewsreport.blogspot.com/

11 March 2008

Perry Vale residents locked out of the station

The latest news on increased accessibility for Forest Hill station is that when Oyster readers come into operation, in January 2009, the gate to Perry Vale will be kept shut throughout the day, only opening during evening peaks. During those evening peaks members of staff will be on hand to read every persons' Oyster card with handheld readers (from 3pm until the end of the peak).

This system would create delays for passengers exiting the Perry Vale exit as a member of staff checks every Oyster card. It is questionable whether staff would be willing to stand in the rain, snow, or freezing/boiling temperatures for hours at a time and trains every five minutes. In reality this system is likely to lead to the gates being closed and for passengers to get soaked while the cross the railway twice (over the bridge and then through the underpass).

Southern Railways have started work on implementation by making space for the gates at the ticket hall and then the barriers need to be installed by TfL. But the plans for the southbound platform are as described above.

The Forest Hill Society, along with Councillor Paschoud, are putting pressure on Southern Railways and others involved in the Oyster implementation to avoid shutting the gate. There are two alternatives that we would prefer:
  1. Oyster reader available at the Perry Vale exit for pre-pay customers to swipe in and out, similar to the system in place until recently at New Cross Gate. This would allow the exit to remain open as it does today.
  2. A new exit onto Perry Vale car park providing staffed ticket barriers all day and an accessible entrance to the station on the Perry Vale side of the station.
Further problems will occur at Sydenham and Brockley where the exits on the northbound (Sydenham) and southbound (Brockley) platforms will be remotely operated for disabled passengers only. Of course once these gates are opened there will be nobody to stop other passengers flooding through the gates. Honor Oak Park station should be fairly straightforward as a single set of barriers can be placed in the ticket hall.

We will keep you updated regarding progress on this matter.

08 March 2008

A Picture of Health

The Forest Hill Society urge our members and others with an interest in the health of Lewisham residents to complete the consultation at http://www.apictureofhealth.nhs.uk/. The least worst option proposed for Lewisham is OPTION 2, however there are significant problems with aligning Lewisham Hospital with hospitals in Bromley, Bexley, and Greenwich rather than closer hospitals used by residents in Forest Hill such as Kings, Guys and St Thomas's. We would prefer that this realignment of hospital services in South East London were reconsidered.
We asked a local resident and doctor to provide a summary of some of the key points for Lewisham residents.

Response to consultation on “A Picture of Health”

By Dr. Penelope Jarrett, Member of Forest Hill Society Executive and Lewisham GP

“A Picture of Health” is a plan produced by the Primary Care Trusts of the 4 boroughs Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley (outer south-east London or “OSEL”). You should have had a document through your door (also available at surgeries, leisure centres etc). It seems that the main reasons for change to NHS services in OSEL are:

    1 Financial: the current level of overspending, mainly at the PFI sites in Woolwich (QEH) and Bromley (PRUH).

    2 Clinical: the European Working Time directive (which sets sensible limits to the number of hours doctors may work) and other changes to doctors’ training and the provision of medical care which mean that overall larger teams of consultants are needed to provide care to the highest standards throughout both day and night.

Since change is proposed, it seems sensible to try to accommodate reported areas of concern to patients such as access, quality of care etc

These seem generally laudable aims, but I think the proposed changes will fail to achieve them for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, and of particular interest to us in Forest Hill, most of the consultation is around what would happen at Lewisham Hospital, and it could be that we would lose acute services because of the overspends at QEH and PRUH.

There is more detail in the longer version of my response, but I will try to summarise the reasons I think it would not work as planned, and services for people in Lewisham will be worse than at present.

Financial: the preconsultation business case (140 pages – on their website) does not convince me the plan will save money. A lot of up-front investment in community services would be required, as well as investment at the hospital sites. If Lewisham A&E were to shut, many patients would go to Kings, Guys or St Thomas’. The PCT would still have to pay for them, and money would go out of “OSEL”. Some areas where they say they will save money could occur without the reorganisation.

Clinical: Lewisham performs better than the other hospitals on many indicators, and has the lowest level of MRSA and Cdiff. They already separate elective and emergency services, but on the same site. Expertise and rotas are already shared, with Kings, Guys and St Thomas’. These sorts of models could be expanded. There would be unintended consequences: the top rated paediatric service cannot be just relocated. Expertise will be lost. Similarly the highly regarded GP scheme would go, and so no more locally trained GPs.

Demographics and travel: Lewisham residents are more similar in their health needs to residents of Southwark and Lambeth i.e. inner not outer London. 57% have no access to car or van, so rely on public transport to access healthcare. Transport links to QEH and PRUH are not great, and if these are the only A&E and maternity sites that will mean a lot of travelling. So much for care closer to home!

Click here for the full text of Dr Jarrett's submission to the Picture of Health Consultation.
A letter from Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham (and Forest Hill resident), to every house in Lewisham can be viewed here. Now it is your turn to respond to the consultation.

29 February 2008

Another post on the Pools

We would be interested to hear what facilities you would/would not like to see on the site, particularly what would you use. We can then put these ideas to Councillor Best and the council in advance of any design for the new building.

A few ideas to get you started and for your comments:
* 2 pools (main pool and learner pool)
* machine room (gym)
* dance/yoga room
* indoor games court (football, badminton, tennis, basketball, netball)
* climbing wall
* cafe
* small meeting room
* Large meeting hall
* class rooms for adult education
* wave machine / water slides
* display on the history of pools and public baths
* opening roof to create a lido in the summer

Not all of these would be possible with a limited budget, so we would like to know which we should have. It is important to focus on what should be in the new building at least as much as how it should look.

To encourage your views we have switched on commenting on this site to allow everybody to have their say on this and other issues discussed on the site.

BBC London report on the pool demolition can be found here.

13 February 2008

Forest Hill Pool History

Two years ago, as Forest Hill Pools was struggling for survival, the Friends of Forest Hill Pools produced this short documentary, a well crafted and very interesting document on local history as well as history of swimming pools in London.

Directed by James E. Melloy and presented by Steve Grindlay it documents the oldest working swimming pool in London.

The pools closed shortly after this documentary was made and as we upload it on the net we are at the eve of the Mayor of Lewisham approving of its demolition and replacement with a modern one on the same site.

Thanks to Save Ladywell Pool Campaign who posted this video on the Internet.

07 February 2008

Pools Report

The long awaited report on the pool has been published and will be presented to the Mayor and Cabinet next Wednesday, you can view it on the Lewisham website.

If you wish to attend the cabinet meeting you can details of the cabinet meeting can also be found on the Lewisham website.
6:00pm, 13 February 2008
Civic Suite, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford
Pools are item 5 on the agenda

Discussions of the report by local residents can be found on se23.com

02 February 2008

Good news for rail passengers from Forest Hill and Sydenham

Over the last year the Forest Hill Society and the Sydenham Society have jointly campaigned to keep our current levels of services to and from London mainline stations after the introduction of the East London Line in 2010. Jim Dowd, our local MP, together with Len Duvall, our GLA member, has also lobbied hard in support of our aims.

Last Autumn Network Rail published their draft Route Utilisation Strategy setting out proposed levels of rail services from 2010. It clearly suggested a significant reduction in services to London Bridge. There were doubts too about the continuation of the current off-peak services to Victoria.

However, new information recently received from Network Rail, via London TravelWatch, suggests that, as a result of our continued campaign, most of our concerns about their proposals have now been addressed.

Rather than a reduction in peak services to London Bridge the plan now is that the total number of trains between 7am and 10am will remain at the current level of 18 trains, with only a slight adjustment to the present hourly spread of trains. All trains are planned to be 8 carriages long, whereas some are currently only 6 carriages long. This represents an overall increase in carriages serving Forest Hill and Sydenham during peak time.

Indications are that the present direct off-peak services to Victoria may continue from Forest Hill and Sydenham, while at peak times the extension of the East London Line to Crystal Palace will reduce journey times to Victoria and Clapham Junction from our line.

The addition of 8 trains of 4 carriages on the East London Railway from 2010 is welcomed by both Societies as providing fast and regular connections to the Jubilee Line, Crystal Palace, Docklands and the East of the City of London as well as other destinations.

The services outlined above are dependent on the agreement of the Department for Transport and on their discussions with the train operators and Transport for London when the Franchises are renegotiated in 2009. We will therefore continue to closely monitor the situation over the next couple of years to make sure that these revised proposals become a reality.


  • From 2010 Forest Hill, Sydenham, Honor Oak Park, Brockley, Penge West and Anerley will be connected to the Overground tube system
  • New peak services to Crystal Palace allowing for interchange to Victoria
  • Possible continuation of off-peak services to Victoria
  • Journey times under 18 minutes to Canary Wharf
  • Commuters working in the east of the City, travelling on a direct connection to Shoreditch, will benefit from cheaper tickets by avoiding zone 1
  • Oyster readers on all stations on the line
  • Southbound platform at Forest Hill to be made accessible to disabled passengers with money from DfT

Negative impacts:

  • All services between London Bridge and Forest Hill/Sydenham will be stopping services, removing existing fast services
  • No direct services to and from Charing Cross, from 2009

We will continue to campaign about the negative impacts and we will work with the rail industry to ensure further improvements in the future. In particular we will press for 10 or 12 carriage trains into London Bridge. This would require the extension of all station platforms along the route, but will become necessary as more passengers continue to use the rail services from our area.

Overall this is good news for people in Forest Hill and Sydenham who finally get to join the tube system.

For further information:

Michael Abrahams – Michael@foresthillsociety.com - Chair, Forest Hill Society

Pat Trembath - pattrembath@googlemail.com - Chair, Sydenham Society

01 February 2008

Presentation by Steve Grindlay

The full presentation made by Steve Grinlay is now available at: http://fhhistory.blogspot.com/

Comments can be made on this site including any links to sites relating to the history of Forest Hill that you feel may be of interest to others.

31 January 2008

An Historic Gathering

The history of the area continues to fascinate the residents of Forest Hill and Honor Oak, a point that has been demonstrated several times by local historian Steve Grindlay.

When he volunteered to lead a walk around Forest Hill last February, instead of speaking to an expected dozen or so hardy enthusiasts, the group eventually numbered over 80.

You'd think, therefore, that when the plan was hatched for another such event, this time in the convivial surroundings of the ED Comedy Club rooms at The Hob, that expectations for numbers would be high. However, once again we were quite unprepared for the number of people that attended on the night.

Over 120 people turned out to hear a fascinating tour through the history and development of Forest Hill & Honor Oak. A steady trickle of visitors that had started at around 6, turned into a veritable flood by just before 7. Chairs were hastily added and even so some hardy souls sat or stood through the entire presentation in the back stairs with only a limited view of the stage.

For almost 2 hours, Steve brought the history of many sites and characters of the area to life, thanks to his vast knowledge and his extensive collection of photos, maps and other collected curios.

There was particular interest in the atmospheric railway and its edible vaccuum tubes and also the changing face of shopping and entertainment in the area, such as the arrival of Sainsbury's, the numerous and now departed cinemas, and the rise and fall of local public houses. We hope to be able to link you to the full presentation in due course.

Any one aspect of this talk would have been worth hearing about and we look forward to more opportunities to explore these in more detail and also to cover even more of the local characters that there simply was not enough time for.

Thank you from the Forest Hill Society to Steve Grindlay, to all the 120+ visitors who came and also generously left contributions totalling over £100 for the Society, and to the Hob for providing the venue.

If you want to catch Steve again, he will be talking at the refurbished Forest Hill Library on 28th Feb at 6:30pm (but get there early!)

Tyson Road Planning Appeal

Residents around Tyson Road and Honor Oak Rd have been involved in a long-running campaign to prevent a developer building 84 flats on land behind the Christian Fellowship Centre. The Council had originally rejected the planning application but the developer appealed and a hearing was set for March 5th.

However, we now learn that the developer has withdrawn his appeal.

No reasons have been given. Perhaps the Developer had decided that they were likely to lose the appeal. In planning law, losing an appeal is a very bad thing, as it can prejudice future planning applications.

Certainly, a declaration by the Inspector that either the site had a high environmental value or that it should be preserved as open space would have been fatal to any high density development.

Of course this won't be the end of the story and we’ll be keeping a close eye on this.

The area concerned is parkland behind 15 to 17A Tyson Road and 39 to 53 Honor Oak Road.

For photos of the site see here: